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The importance of connection when working for yourself


It is a fundamental human need to seek and have connection. If we are lonely this is an indication to ourselves that we are craving such connection.

It is therefore imperative as someone who predominantly works solo (as a self employed counsellor/psychotherapist) that I maintain a healthy form of connection to others in order to avoid a downside of working for myself - loneliness, isolation and therefore overall disconnect.

But why is this so important? Ultimately what would happen to us in a professional or personal capacity if we didn't seek out connection?

Think about the last time you felt down. Chances are you needed in that moment to connect to something - whether it was a form of escapism or the opportunity to speak to someone about how you were feeling. Maybe it was a need to exercise, to physically get yourself moving out of a place of stagnation. Or maybe it was looking back through photos from the last time you felt fulfilled. These are all examples of us, on some level, connecting to something around us.

Working as a counsellor my job is predominantly to help support other people in whatever difficulty they may be finding themselves in. I connect everyday to people in their own challenges and help support their needs, therefore it is imperative that I provide myself that same opportunity to be held and supported by others. There's a well known saying that we cannot drink from an empty cup. And working in health care or any other field that helps support people in any way, it is likely if we are always supporting others but not ourselves, that we can reach a risk of burnout. We therefore need to restore and keep our own cup filled.

As well as regular time off to help stem this risk of burnout, it is so important to maintain the support of those around you. Here are some examples below of some of the things which have worked for me and how to do this when you don't have the luxury of seeing and being around colleagues on a regular basis:

  • Speak honestly and openly to your loved ones about how you are feeling in your professional line of work (but on a personal level too).

  • Reach out to ex colleagues or friends who may be in the same field as you.

  • Join and connect with networking or support groups (I am a member of the Network for Younger Counsellors and Psychotherapists - which has been instrumental in connection as well as learning from fellow counsellors who are a similar age or in a similar place in their counselling career).

  • Organise self development days with peers (share useful ways of working, explore what is going well in your business or what you are struggling with currently).

  • Make use of your time outside of work in ways that establish connection, for example connecting to a local sports club, getting to know your neighbours and people in the community, see friends and family outside of work and try to minimise long periods where you will be alone.

  • If you hire a face to face space for your work make time (even just 5 or 10 minutes a day) to speak to other people who work in this venue. As well as developing connection, this too may help with networking, getting your name and business out there more and may even help with client referrals.

A final note to end this blog on, it may also be useful for you to be aware of any little warning signs which may be indicating your need for connection or that you are struggling with working alone. These will be unique and individual for everyone, but here are some of mine which I often look out for and keep being aware of to help me find a balance of working solo. Which of these do you resonate with? Can you come up with a list of your own warning signs?

  1. I am feeling a need to make lots of plans with people

  2. I am struggling with quieter days on my own

  3. I am feeling a need to stay later than is needed at my face to face space to chat to colleagues

  4. I am starting to recognise signs of loneliness in my work

  5. I am exhausted

On reflection, there are many many benefits that I am seeing to working on my own including- increased work life balance, increased energy, increased wellbeing and working in ways which align with my own ethos and way of being. It is therefore not the whole picture that working alone can cause immense isolation, but it is a factor to consider and be aware so that you can, if you wish, continue to work in this way going forward in the future.

How much do you value and seek connection when working alone? Can this differ from week to week, month to month? I would love to hear your thoughts on what resonated with you in this blog and if you have any suggestions as to how to maintain connection when working solo. And do you believe this differs depending on the sector you work in?

Look after yourself today,


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